Saudi Arabia together with some Islamic countries are working on a pioneering project to launch a satellite, which will be used for moon sighting to decide accurate dates of religious rituals and festivals in the Islamic calendar.
A 15-member panel from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain has already decided in consultation with the Cairo University’s Space Studies Center to award the contract for manufacturing this first Islamic satellite to an Italian company at a cost of SR30 million.
“The Islamic satellite, expected to be used in crescent sighting and studying environment pollution and movement of clouds, will be put in orbit by the end of this year”, said Dr. Ali Juma, chief of the 15-member panel. Dr. Juma said that “the satellite would solve many problems related to crescent sighting . Differences over the lunar months have prompted Arab and Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia to support the project”.
The moon sighting is increasingly becoming controversial in Pakistan and India especially for the beginning of the month of Ramadan, for Eid Al-Fitr and for Eid Al-Adha. Dr. Juma and Shaikh contend that the satellite will provide accuracy in moon sighting. They said that the launch of the satellite should provide a solution to all Muslim countries to follow the sighting on a particular day for all. The satellite would also be used to locate space pollution, locust swarms and areas growing drugs and storing them. Referring to the use of the satellite to study space pollution, the experts said that “this satellite will prove very useful”. They said that the only way to get a complete picture of air pollution around the globe is to measure it from space.